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The Company We Keep: A Husband-and-Wife True-Life Spy Story
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Robert Baer was known inside the CIA as perhaps the best operative working the Middle East. Over several decades he served everywhere from Iraq to New Delhi and racked up such an impressive list of accomplishments that he was eventually awarded the Career Intelligence Medal. But if his career was everything a spy might aspire to, his personal life was a brutal illustration of everything a spy is asked to sacrifice. Bob had few enduring non-work friendships, only contacts and acquaintances. His prolonged absences destroyed his marriage, and he felt intense guilt at spending so little time with his children. Sworn to secrecy and constantly driven by ulterior motives, he was a man apart wherever he went.Dayna Williamson thought of herself as just an ordinary California girl -- admittedly one born into a comfortable lifestyle. But she was always looking to get closer to the edge. When she joined the CIA, she was initially tasked with Agency background checks, but the attractive Berkeley graduate quickly distinguished herself as someone who could thrive in the field, and she was eventually assigned to "Protective Operations" training where she learned to handle weapons and explosives and conduct high-speed escape and evasion. Tapped to serve in some of the world's most dangerous places, she discovered an inner strength and resourcefulness she'd never known -- but she also came to see that the spy life exacts a heavy toll. Her marriage crumbled, her parents grew distant, and she lost touch with friends who'd once meant everything to her.When Bob and Dayna met on a mission in Sarajevo, it wasn't love at first sight. They were both too jaded for that. But there was something there, a spark. And as the danger escalated and their affection for each other grew, they realized it was time to leave "the Company," to somehow rediscover the people they'd once been.As worldly as both were, the couple didn't realize at first that turning in their Agency I.D. cards would not be enough to put their covert past behind. The fact was, their clandestine relationships remained. Living as "civilians" in conflict-ridden Beirut, they fielded assassination proposals, met with Arab sheiks, wily oil tycoons, terrorists, and assorted outlaws -- and came perilously close to dying. But even then they couldn't know that their most formidable challenge lay ahead.Simultaneously a trip deep down the intelligence rabbit hole -- one that shows how the "game" actually works, including the compromises it asks of those who play by its rules -- and a portrait of two people trying to regain a normal life, The Company We Keep is a masterly depiction of the real world of shadows.From the Hardcover edition.
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Street Date:
03/08/2011
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780307588166
ASIN:
B004J4WMK4
Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Robert Baer. (2011). The Company We Keep: A Husband-and-Wife True-Life Spy Story. Crown.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Robert Baer. 2011. The Company We Keep: A Husband-and-Wife True-Life Spy Story. Crown.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Robert Baer, The Company We Keep: A Husband-and-Wife True-Life Spy Story. Crown, 2011.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Robert Baer. The Company We Keep: A Husband-and-Wife True-Life Spy Story. Crown, 2011. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • bioText: ROBERT BAER is the author of three New York Times bestsellers involving the CIA: See No Evil (which was the basis for the acclaimed film "Syriana"), Sleeping with the Devil, and The Devil We Know. He has become one of the most authoritative voices on American intelligence and frequently appears as a media commentator. DAYNA BEAR, before leaving the agency to settle down with Bob, was herself an accomplished CIA operative.
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The Company We Keep
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Robert Baer was known inside the CIA as perhaps the best operative working the Middle East. Over several decades he served everywhere from Iraq to New Delhi and racked up such an impressive list of accomplishments that he was eventually awarded the Career Intelligence Medal. But if his career was everything a spy might aspire to, his personal life was a brutal illustration of everything a spy is asked to sacrifice. Bob had few enduring non-work friendships, only contacts and acquaintances. His prolonged absences destroyed his marriage, and he felt intense guilt at spending so little time with his children. Sworn to secrecy and constantly driven by ulterior motives, he was a man apart wherever he went.

Dayna Williamson thought of herself as just an ordinary California girl -- admittedly one born into a comfortable lifestyle. But she was always looking to get closer to the edge. When she joined the CIA, she was initially tasked with Agency background checks, but the attractive Berkeley graduate quickly distinguished herself as someone who could thrive in the field, and she was eventually assigned to "Protective Operations" training where she learned to handle weapons and explosives and conduct high-speed escape and evasion. Tapped to serve in some of the world's most dangerous places, she discovered an inner strength and resourcefulness she'd never known -- but she also came to see that the spy life exacts a heavy toll. Her marriage crumbled, her parents grew distant, and she lost touch with friends who'd once meant everything to her.

When Bob and Dayna met on a mission in Sarajevo, it wasn't love at first sight. They were both too jaded for that. But there was something there, a spark. And as the danger escalated and their affection for each other grew, they realized it was time to leave "the Company," to somehow rediscover the people they'd once been.

As worldly as both were, the couple didn't realize at first that turning in their Agency I.D. cards would not be enough to put their covert past behind. The fact was, their clandestine relationships remained. Living as "civilians" in conflict-ridden Beirut, they fielded assassination proposals, met with Arab sheiks, wily oil tycoons, terrorists, and assorted outlaws -- and came perilously close to dying. But even then they couldn't know that their most formidable challenge lay ahead.

Simultaneously a trip deep down the intelligence rabbit hole -- one that shows how the "game" actually works, including the compromises it asks of those who play by its rules -- and a portrait of two people trying to regain a normal life, The Company We Keep is a masterly depiction of the real world of shadows.

From the Hardcover edition.
reviews
      • premium: False
      • source: Mens Journal
      • content:

        "[A] bloody, suspenseful story of love and deceit."

      • premium: False
      • source: The Washington Post
      • content: "The Company We Keep is a breezy, often fascinating account of this CIA romance, with tradecraft details and war stories thrown in to make it catnip for any fan of espionage fiction...That the Baers coaxed a happy ending out of all this is not the least remarkable part of their appealing story, and hats offto them."
      • premium: False
      • source: More
      • content: "Engrossing...filled with juicy, personal on-the-job details...[an] exhilarating tale of geopolitical love and peril..."
      • premium: False
      • source: David Ignatius, New York Times bestselling author of Body of Lies
      • content: "The Company We Keep is the best true-life spy story I've ever read...You'll find yourself rooting for these two vagabond spies, and you won't want their exciting and moving story to end."
      • premium: False
      • source: Richard North Patterson, New York Times bestselling author of Degree of Guilt and In the Name of Honor
      • content: "Funny, frightening, ironic, and deeply moving, this is an utterly engrossing thrill ride through the hall of mirrors that is modern espionage...A wonderful book."
      • premium: False
      • source: Valerie Plame Wilson, New York Times bestselling author of Fair Game
      • content: "Provides a spot-on and compelling portrait of real life inside the CIA; the periods of boredom and frustration loudly punctuated by fast-moving and sometimes frightening, sometimes amusing intelligence operations. Bob and Dayna Baer are the real deal and they beautifully capture the murky world they lived and worked in for years."
      • premium: False
      • source: Kirkus Reviews
      • content: "Propulsive momentum...the authors give a good sense of the improvisational nature of the CIA...Both Baers write affectingly of their experiences."
      • premium: False
      • source: Barry Eisler, New York Times bestselling author of Rain Fall and Fault Line
      • content: "A revelation...[shows] how spies operate in the field, the personal costs they pay for the exceptional lives they live, and the way fate can deliver up redemption...I loved this book."
      • premium: False
      • source: Jane Mayer, National Book Award Finalist for The Dark Side
      • content: "An emotionally candid memoir of a life few could imagine, juggling terrorists and dictators with all too real family dramas...describes how two accomplished spies trained in shooting for the heart, improbably found their own."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        January 17, 2011
        Robert and Dayna Baer's initial meeting was slightly unusual—both were on a covert mission in Sarajevo for the CIA. In this intermittently intriguing memoir, they describe their careers in "the Company," their romance, and the difficulty they have in establishing a balanced life outside the world of secret agents. Their travels take them to interesting places in interesting times—from Bosnia and Lebanon during civil wars, to Syria under the Assads, the mansions of sheiks, and the safe houses of terrorist groups. As the Baers drift away from family and see friends die, they learn the costs of covert life. Told in chapters that alternate between each partner's perspective, their story is best when discussing the minutiae of agency work. In understated prose, the couple effectively narrate the long bouts of tedium interspersed with moments of paranoia and fear that make up a CIA agent's life. On most assignments, they never learn if their efforts have any positive result—often, they don't even know their co-workers' real names. When the personal becomes the subject, however, the understatement feels inadequate. The Baers give us so little insight into their mutual attraction that it feels like another state secret. After they leave the agency, they seem adrift, and the book loses focuses as well.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        January 1, 2011

        Two CIA spooks form a romantic bond while globe-hopping between trouble spots.

        In this unusual memoir, a husband and wife alternate chapters in describing their careers and connection. Robert Baer (The Devil We Know: Dealing with the New Iranian Superpower, 2009, etc.) is well-known to espionage fans as the basis for George Clooney's character in Syriana (2005). Dayna had a more secretive career. Initially, she performed background checks, but then, to her surprise, she was selected for the "shooter" course, which prepares the CIA's little-known cohort of Protective Agents. Despite this potentially thrilling detour, Dayna emphasizes that "what I end up doing has nothing to do with banging down doors and firefights...The moment a gun comes out, the mission is compromised." Meanwhile, Robert was posted to places like Tajikistan and Iraq, where he was "caught up in a plot by a handful of Iraqi generals to oust Saddam Hussein," which led to his near-prosecution by the FBI. Yet he was admittedly addicted to the political intrigues of the Middle East, even as his first marriage was disintegrating. The early chapters have propulsive momentum, and the authors give a good sense of the improvisational nature of the CIA in the 1990s, as clandestine veterans like Robert tried to tie up the messy loose ends of the Cold War. Both Baers write affectingly of their experiences in Sarajevo, "a city radiant with sorrow," where they met during a covert operation. Dayna's initial impressions of Robert were decidedly negative, and their romance took some time to blossom. Unfortunately, once they wind up together, the narrative pace slackens (the love affair is only vaguely depicted). Eventually, they decided to leave the agency (Robert permanently, Dayna on a leave of absence) in order to build a family and pursue an international adoption in Pakistan, where the CIA is not highly regarded. Despite some chilling moments involving a Taliban-aligned judge, the book meanders toward a conclusion of domestic contentment.

        An intermittently engaging but not entirely satisfying tale of love and espionage.

        (COPYRIGHT (2011) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        October 15, 2010

        Longtime CIA operative Baer has several best sellers to his name, including See No Evil, the basis of Syriana; wife Dayna Baer was his CIA "shooter." Together, they found quitting "the Company" a big challenge. Yes, this is being pitched as the story of a real-life Mr. and Mrs. Smith and will likely have wide appeal.

        Copyright 2010 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        December 15, 2010
        When they met in Croatia in the early 1990s, he didnt know her real name. His alias was Howard, but he introduced himself as Bob. By that time, he was a seasoned CIA spook, with 15 years of international intrigue under his belt. Dayna, a relatively new field agent, was expecting that her new friend's veterans counsel would increase her quickly growing knowledge of the spy game; she wasnt expecting to fall in love. This fascinating memoir, written by Bob and Dayna in alternating chapters, traces their lives from before they metshe was carrying out security checks in L.A.; he was in Tajikistan, scoping out the former Soviet republicand follows them as they fell in love and began to build a life together. The book is full of insight into the world of international intelligence-gathering, and it contains some interesting surprises, too (at one point, after he resigned from the CIA, Bob came awfully close to taking a job in Kabul, working with the Taliban). An engaging narrative that should appeal to readers of spy-themed literature, factual or fictional. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Expect the publisher of this real-life spy and love story to take full advantage of the off-the-book-page human-interest angle. Comparisons to Mr. and Mrs. Smith and to Valerie Plame and Joe Wilson (and the recent biopic starring Sean Pean and Naomi Watts) wont hurt a bit.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2010, American Library Association.)

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Robert Baer was known inside the CIA as perhaps the best operative working the Middle East. Over several decades he served everywhere from Iraq to New Delhi and racked up such an impressive list of accomplishments that he was eventually awarded the Career Intelligence Medal. But if his career was everything a spy might aspire to, his personal life was a brutal illustration of everything a spy is asked to sacrifice. Bob had few enduring non-work friendships, only contacts and acquaintances. His prolonged absences destroyed his marriage, and he felt intense guilt at spending so little time with his children. Sworn to secrecy and constantly driven by ulterior motives, he was a man apart wherever he went.

Dayna Williamson thought of herself as just an ordinary California girl -- admittedly one born into a comfortable lifestyle. But she was always looking to get closer to the edge. When she joined the CIA, she was initially tasked with Agency background checks, but the...
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